School of Architecture


Wednesday 25 March 2020 12:00pm to 1:30pm


Research Zoom Room:


Registrations for this event are now closed

Updated 19 March 2020: The format has changed to an online webinar via the Research Zoom Room:

Presenter: Dr Johanna Brugman Alvarez

Since colonial times a formal/informal divide entrenched in systems of urban planning in Phnom Penh, Cambodia has been used as a governmental tool by the state to marginalize and exclude informal settlements. This tool has also been used to impose market-led tenure reforms and a land formalisation program that perpetuate an individual/collective divide by promoting individual property rights. This paper uncovers these interrelated dichotomies and explains how these are used as governmental tools by actors within and through the state to their advantage and the social and spatial inequalities these generate in the city. The paper presents a case study of one informal settlement excluded from systematic land registration, the process for recognition that residents organized collectively, and the implications of being recognized through a market-led formalisation program. The findings question the effectiveness of market-led responses to urban informality in securing land and wellbeing of the urban poor in cities with rapid urbanization rates and weak governance systems such as Phnom Penh. In this light, the paper makes knowledge contributions to theoretical arguments that advocate for opening the space for ‘the collective’ in informal settlement upgrading practices, such as collective tenure systems and collective financial strategies, and further recognition and support to the actors that collectively organize themselves in face of exclusion and marginalization and their contributions to the built environment professions and urban equality.


Please direct all enquiries about this event to:

Bernard Llanos
+61 7 3365 3537